31
May
10

service…be the change

I’ve been thinking in the ‘small wave”, wake-effect of the “Lactation” fatwa, of what some ‘scholars’ are doing to our religion, and the changing face of Islam they are presenting. The differing of opinions in my mind are good for creating dynamic discussion. But when one person or group undermines our humanity and tries to curtail our quest for understanding, belonging, and being in this world; putting us into spaces we would naturally feel uncomfortable or oppress and debase us – then I question that person or group’s intentions.

From the little I know about, for example, of Saudi society; I get the sense that there are two undercurrents flowing in opposite directions. Is it a reflection of the rest of the Arab world? I’m not so sure. Because other societies of the Muslim world are more open. Even in Yemen where there is still considerable illiteracy you still know of women in the public sphere- politically, socially, economically, etc. Women who work and are not stopped from striving. But then again, for everyone of these women who received an education and can fully function in society; there are countless other who don’t or can’t. In Saudi Arabia where education is at a higher level, it seems to be much harder to fully function because of all the ‘man-made’ additions to how Islam is practiced there. You would think this should not be the case. Unfortunately, as the ‘Lactation’ fatwa demonstrates- the basic problem created by such strict sex-segregation has a few ‘learned’ creating convoluted propositions to get around the fundamental issue they imposed on a society that no longer needs it, and would greatly prosper from it being loosened- sex segregation and tight control over the population’s ability and potential to create their own space within the structure of Islam.

Personally, I have stepped away from people or institutions that preach women are confined M&M’s -married and mothers only. Why? Well because these people are out of touch with reality. The world as we know it is far beyond tents, sands and prodigious amounts of offspring roaming the desolate and sometimes barren deserts. We have to understand for example that if a woman becomes a widow and she has no children from that marriage, she should not be subjected to total loss of the family and possessions she had come to care for. She shouldn’t have to feel obligated to completely fend for herself or remarry just because. Her new station means in Saudi her life loses meaning and she is left with memories only. The same goes for divorced women. Why should a woman lose rights to her children, even partial custody can be lost. Why should she be ostracized when divorce is a natural option in Islam, where the condition that now is never met is that of separating in a kindly manner without force or oppression. With Roman Catholics divorce was totally forbidden, in some countries until recently you couldn’t get a divorce if you had had a religious wedding ceremony- getting an annulment was nearly impossible- because it was literally ‘until death do us part’ married. But in Islam divorce is codified- so why do we castigate women when clearly it states both men and women can seek to sever their ties to their spouse? The ones that always seems to end up with the short end of the stick that is to beat them, are women. This concept is very non Islamic.

As Ummah, for it to mean something more than mere letters, we need to create spaces of inclusion and acceptance. Come to understand every situation by putting yourself in the shoes of others to gain some insight. Not blindly accepting every thing that is force fed to us- either by questionably motivated clerics or by social stigmas that have no bases in Islam. The other critical piece is this holding on to our nationality like a vice that only serves to isolate and strangle us; unable to hear the voices of sound reason. I say this because many people blame the West for all their problems, and at the same time use the West for all its endeavors- be it to keep us angry and humiliated or ignorant and despondent. To say ‘I’m 100% Saudi is meaningless. What does it really mean? That you are pure 100% Arab of the Arab Peninsula? Well good for you! But what does saying it do for your fellow Man? Does it help the destitute? Does it help empower the youth that have no avenues to let out steam by creating their own way in life? No, it doesn’t. All it does is just state you are separate from the rest of humanity. You’re isolating yourself from the rest of the Ummah, only seeing the walls you are building to confine and limit yourselves.

There are countless ways that a 100% Saudi can also be 100% Muslim of the Ummah, and 100% human of the planet Earth- its called inclusion. The are many more Muslims out here than there are 100% Saudi Muslims. Wake up!!! Smell the coffee! Yes, I know you don’t like Yemeni. But what did they do that you haven’t already done? I happen to want to learn more of this Saudi society with a penchant for closed doors and high walls. No wonder no one understands them completely- they won’t let you in! And at the same time they throw rocks from their inner walls as if they were being besieged. Not so…the world is smaller now because so many of us occupy space. The Village of Earth is very small indeed- you guys must be claustrophobic in there!

When I ask what would, could Saudis do to help themselves- some just point back to us as the culprits, using side tracking techniques of highlighting our short-comings and therefore trying to hide theirs. Well if we are the culprits, when will you pick up the courage to stop being the victim? What are the concrete things you can do to better your society? Not the individualistic mind set answers please. Even the ‘let the women do what they have to and we men will do what we have to’ is already creating a rift. Why? Because it rips apart a society, fragmenting and weakening it further. A House divided, Shall Fall.

No truer words have been spoken. And our houses are divided. We divide everything we do into ‘we versus them’. That is just as ‘individualistic’ as ‘every man for himself’.

-So if you’re so full of ideas, what would you do?- you might rightly ask. Well start with what you have. Start where you are right now:
If you have circle of friends, pool your resources to serve the poor.
Buy food or clothing for those who can’t. Create ‘soup kitchens’ for the hungry and destitute, and empower them by helping out to cook and clean- an honest day’s work for an honest meal.
If you have cars (this would apply to the men who are the only ones currently allowed to drive in mainstream Saudi society) get together and do a ‘Car Wash Day’ in another less affluent area and have the teen boys volunteer their time, donating the funds to the kids soccer team.
Heck put together ‘little league’ soccer teams!
Create cooperatives that would in turn benefit women in creating cooperatives of indigenous crafts that can be sold at markets.
Donate some of your time to teaching kids a new skill-
Since you men all drive why don’t you a group create a “Remedial Driving schools’ in your area for new teenage drivers teaching them the correct way to handle cars.
Men again could be better voices for their counterparts- stop the young guys from prowling- give them something to do- and while you’re at it- teach them better manners, be examples- role models.
Those of you who have studied or worked abroad hold informal meetings or ‘socials’ to answer basic questions your younger set may not know- Mentor them!
Get permission to do a street by street beautification drive- clear the trash-see a piece of paper or rubbish on the floor-pick it up and through it in the trash.
If you see a street hasn’t had its trash picked up, call the company that is suppose to and state the location; have your friends call too!
Finished eating and there is still lots of food on your plate- prepare or ask for it to be packaged for take out and give it to the first elderly and hungry person you find.

Fellow bloggers take a corner of your blogs to dedicate to posting any and all ideas you have to create an atmosphere of giving, of being better humans, better Muslims in the Ummah and the world.
Encourage others to do good for their fellow citizens and ask them to ‘Pay it Forward’ coming up with more ideas and implementing them.
Have brainstorming sessions, at home, with friends, with colleagues on a few things you can do today to make someone feel empowered, appreciated, loved.

Let the ideas flow, some will be possible now, others will become possible when you believe them possible. Help others and you’ll help yourself. Dare to be different- dare to believe you can benefit society even in the smallest of action, and ask the person down the line to pay it forward.

I’ve started a page to connect us to other people around the world. There are two ‘vehicles of change’ I recently joined that are extremely helpful, created by groups of friends that want to be of service. Teach, learn, strive- if you can’t change the system change yourselves. ‘Be the change you would want in this world’.

www.helpothers.org
Its all about Random Acts of Kindness and Paying it Forward

Global Oneness Project
Helps identify and highlight all the global thoughts out, by theme, on giving all of us a chance to be one and to be of service. ‘Think globally, act locally’

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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4 Responses to “service…be the change”


  1. June 1, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Inal, sending you something. Please check your email.

  2. June 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Hello Inal …

    You haven’t gone far from describing the true essence of the Saudi society. In a lot of times, it seems to me that the Saudi society is a victim of its own self! One of the major flaws of any society is its inability to criticize itself and apply the required self correction mechanisms!

    Having said that, and despite the repeated clashes of ideas, the Saudi society is going through change and open discussions right now. Media is taking more freedom and different points of views are expressed and leading to debates.

    And this is the right road …

  3. 4 INAL
    June 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Welcome Saad!

    Thank you, I am glad to hear that my thoughts on Saudi society were not as far fetched. I understand there is change in the winds, and that is what I am asking for others to think about. What can they do, at a very local level- so local it could mean picking something up for your mom unexpectedly. I don’t speak of the kind of change that only governments have the power to enact- I mean the changes at grassroots level- at personal levels.

    Saudi will one day forge ahead and it will be entirely on their own steam, with their own ideas…ideed it’s a good road…

    Just remember that what makes us and keeps us human is entirely in our hands only…

    Again Welcome, and I thank you for coming and expressing yourself. To me I have accomplished an aim.


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